Mets trade ex-Pirate Neil Walker to Brewers
PHILADELPHIA — The Mets traded former Pirates second baseman Neil Walker to the Milwaukee Brewers late Saturday, the latest veteran dealt by out-of-contention New York as it pivots toward 2018.
New York gets a player to be named and will pay the Brewers cash to cover a portion of the $4,041,530 remaining in Walker's $17.2 million salary. The Pine-Richland graduate can become a free agent after the World Series.
The 31-year-old is hitting .264 with 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 73 games this season after batting .282 with 23 homers and 55 RBIs in 2016, when he had season-ending back surgery Sept. 8.
Milwaukee is third in the NL Central, two games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs.
“I'm excited to be back in a playoff race,” Walker said.
New York expected to contend but is 52-62. The Mets previously traded outfielder Jay Bruce, first baseman Lucas Duda and relief pitcher Addison Reed.
“This series of transactions opens up the opportunity for us to observe some new players,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. “When things don't go the way they were expected to go, then you have to shift direction and do the best you can to change direction.”
The Mets acquired Walker from the Pirates for pitcher Jon Niese on Dec. 9, 2015, after allowing Daniel Murphy to become a free agent. Murphy has gone on to have two All-Star seasons with Washington.
Alderson praised Walker's performance in New York.
“He was an excellent player,” Alderson said. “A first-rate guy. Very important in the clubhouse. I'm very glad we had him for the time we did and I think he distinguished himself as a Met.”
Walker said he is looking forward to playing in Milwaukee, where he has batted .286 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs in 51 games at Miller Park. He started at third base and hit cleanup against Cincinnati on Sunday.
“I've always felt pretty good there,” he said.
Walker gets a crack at his former team when the Brewers play the Pirates on Tuesday. Both teams are in the thick of the NL Central race.
“You never know where you're going to be in this game,” Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison said. “It's good for him because he gets to be a part of a playoff push. And it's good for us to get to see him again.”
In 10 career games against the Pirates, Walker has batted .333 with a 1.127 OPS.
“He's swung the bat really well against us,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We'll try make some adjustments.”